I don't claim to know Obama's grandmother and am in no position to judge her racial sentiments. But it does seem to an outsider that Obama's judgment upon his grandmother is as harsh as his tolerance of Wright is benign. It isn't as if he was raised in Trinity Baptist Church. He chose it as an adult. He chose those sermons he now calls "incendiary" and "inexcusable." He says now that Wright misses the dynamism of American society, yet when it came time to decide where his daughters would attend church, he chose Trinity, where they would "learn" that the U.S. government concocted the AIDS virus to wipe out the African-American population, that the U.S. would "plant" WMDs in Iraq, and that blacks harming other blacks are "fighting the wrong enemy." A beautifully delivered speech cannot overcome that history.
The solution, Obama asserts, to racial divisiveness, is to come together and say "Not this time." This time "we want to talk about "the crumbling schools ... to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem." This time, in other words, we can demonstrate our racial bona fides by, you guessed it, voting for Obama for president.
Barack is the new kid on the block, but surely he can recall the campaign of 2000. One of the candidates that year made education reform a keystone of his effort, more or less explicitly aiming at minority kids. He called his package No Child Left Behind and denounced the "soft bigotry of low expectations." One doesn't expect Obama, a very liberal Democrat, to endorse George W. Bush's programs. But it would be nice if he were not suggesting that by voting for something very similar, we are taking a bold step toward racial reconciliation and universal love.